9 Sep 2014

Secretary to sue FA over ‘offensive’ Premier League emails

Channel 4 News has learnt that the FA is to be sued by the woman who revealed lurid and sexist emails exchanged by senior executives at the Premier League.

And Rani Abraham has now written to Prince William – president of the FA – saying she hopes his “sense of fair play and honesty may be brought to bear to resolve the situation”.

Rani Abraham left her temporary job at the Premier League last November after she says she was exposed to a number of sexist and offensive work emails involving, among others, the chief executive of the Premier League Richard Scudamore (pictured below). She blew the whistle last spring, and when her former employers decided not to take any disciplinary action against him, she began legal proceedings.

Although at the time Greg Dyke – the chair of football’s governing body – described the emails as “pretty horrible”, the FA chose not to investigate. They would not investigate, they said, because the emails were private and Mr Scudamore was not an FA employee.

But Ms Abraham argues the FA rather shot themselves in the foot when they decided a few weeks ago that they would investigate racist and offensive emails exchanged recently by former Cardiff manager Malky Malkay.

Although following a meeting of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, the chair, Heather Rabbatts, said she would make sure the Premier League kept to its “undertaking to take further steps on inclusion and diversity”, Ms Abrahams wants legal redress.

Channel 4 News can reveal Ms Abraham is now accusing the FA of complicity in what she calls the Premier League’s “offensive and misogynistic” behaviour.

The particulars of her claim describe the FA as “an old boys’ club”. She argues the FA failed in two areas:

1. Were the emails private? Ms Abraham’s case argues that the emails were sent using work email addresses, and she was exposed to them nonetheless. Once they ended up in the public domain, there was nothing to stop them investigating.

2. Did the FA have jurisdiction over a non-employee? Ms Abraham’s case argues that under the FA’s own rulebook, although Mr Scudamore isn’t an employee, he is a “participant”, and there was no reason for them not to investigate him.

Channel 4 News also understands the FA had received independent legal advice via one of its non-executive directors that “The FA’s position that it cannot hold a misconduct inquiry into the emails lacks merit.”

Ms Abraham’s case does not pull punches. It details the emails she revealed, and lays out detailed grounds for what she believes is a clear case for compensation from the FA. She says:

36: …It was simply a cover up by the FA to help the PL.

38: …it is clear that the FA were acting as the PL’s agent in this matter, seeking to protect the PL from criticism and censure for its unlawful conduct

39: …Mr Dyke [the FA chairman] decided to support the sexist PL and not fulfil its regulatory and legal obligations. The old boys’ network closed ranks.

76: It was a whitewash and a national disgrace. I felt harassed and victimised by this sham process and outcome and the FA’s aiding and abetting of their principal, the PL.

77: It made a mockery of the FA’s anti-discrimination policy.

The president of the FA, Prince William, is also told that if nothing is done about what Ms Abrahams describes as its “lying to the British public as to its powers to intervene”, she will “regrettably have no choice but to report the alleged corruption at the FA and Premier League to Uefa for formal investigation and to seek the appropriate sanctions for the alleged unlawful conduct”.

The FA has informed Channel 4 News it has yet to receive Ms Abraham’s legal papers, and in any case it wouldn’t comment on live legal proceedings.

We are awaiting comment from Clarence House.

Follow @nzerem_c4 on Twitter